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Village continues to wrestle with right number of authorized check signors

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By Kevin Beese
December 15, 2016

Checks for the Maywood police and fire commissioners continues to be an issue with twists and turns – and is not over yet.

During the past few weeks, village officials have gone from adding a fourth authorized signor on village checks in order to
keep checks from being held up to keeping the number of authorized check signors at three.

The primary reason the Village Board opted to keep the number of authorized signors at three is that two of the trustees
who supported adding another signor were not at last week’s Village Board meeting when the ordinance adding a fourth
signor came up. Trustees Ron Rivers and Henderson Yarbrough, both of whom had voted in November, to add Finance
Director Lanya Satchell as a signor on village checks, were not present at the board’s Dec. 6 meeting.

Trustee Antonette “Toni” Dorris, who along with fellow Trustee Melvin Lightford, was on the short end of a 3-2 vote last
week against adding a fourth signor, said the issue will be brought back up for discussion.

“No matter who is in the mayor’s seat, we should never as an establishment allow personal feelings to get in the way of
day-to-day business,” Dorris said in an interview this week. “Adding a fourth person eliminates the personal feelings of
any mayor. I don’t care who you are.”  Dorris is one of five individuals expected to challenge incumbent Mayor Edwenna
Perkins in the April election.

Perkins, one of the three authorized signers on village checks, did not sign the Police and Fire Commission members’
checks until four days later when she could verify that board members had, in fact, attended the Nov. 10 meeting. It
hadbeen customary for checks to be cut, signed and available for commission members in the morning of their meeting
date despite their meeting occurring that evening.

“How do you go about knowing who attended or didn’t attend without the meeting minutes?” Perkins asked in an interview
last week.

All village checks need two signatures in order to be valid.  Dorris said she found the mayor’s timing on the commission’s
checks peculiar.

“Don’t ask for a sign-in list right before the election when you didn’t ask for one 3 ½ years ago,” Dorris said. “She did not
ask for a sign-in list 3 ½ years ago when she became mayor.”  Dorris classified the move as “political.” She said she will
likely bring the fourth signature issue up again at the Dec. 28 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee, a work session
for the Village Board.  She said it may not be until after the April election that the issue is brought back before the Village
Board for a vote.

Dorris said it may not work if she is the one who instigates bringing the issue back up for consideration.  “It is clear that if I
bring up something first, it probably will be shot down,” Dorris said of her discord with some fellow board members.  She
said Rivers and Yarbrough have a right to vote on the issue.  “The issue failed because two of the aldermen who did vote
for the issue to go to the regular board meeting were not there,” Dorris said. “They have a right to vote on the issue.”  
Voting against the fourth authorized signor were Perkins and Trustees Isiah Brandon and Mike Rogers.

“I totally disagree with adding an additional party to the authorized signors,” Brandon said at last week’s meeting. “We
have a system in place that has worked for decades.

There is a lack of evidence that we need to change anything to meet the demand.”  Dorris said an additional authorized
signor on checks just makes good business sense.  “God forbid, something happens to the mayor. Then we have the
clerk and the treasurer as signors,” Dorris said. “The clerk goes on vacation and we don’t have that extra signor.  We are
a reactive community instead of being a proactive community. We can no longer afford to be a reactive community. That
is not not helping us.”

At the Nov. 30 LLOC meeting, Finance Director Satchell, was approved as an authorized signor for village-issued checks,
giving four individuals check-signing authority in the municipality.

“My issue is you have to attend the meeting to get your money,” Perkins said in an interview.  Perkins said there is no
village policy that states commission members get their checks the day of a meeting.  “That is just what they demand,”  
the mayor said.  

Perkins has had a contentious relationship with the police and fire commissioners since taking office.

In August, Village Board members decided to give members of the commission, the only appointed village residents who
are paid, a raise from $100 to $150 per meeting. Gloria Clay, secretary of the commission, saw her pay increase from
$150 to $200 per meeting. The commission is paid for up to two meeting per month. They are not paid for administrative
hearings and testing they attend.  

Perkins said it was determined that commissioners last year turned in hearings they attended as meetings.  “They were
paid $1,000 more than they were supposed to when they turned in their hearings as meetings – and they did not pay it
back,” the mayor said.

At that Nov. 30 LLOC meeting, officials, in a 4-3 vote, approved adding Satchell as an authorized signer on village
checks.  Voting for adding Satchell as a check signer were: Trustees Dorris, Lightford, Rivers and Yarbrough.  Voting
against the move were: Trustees Brandon and Rogers, and Mayor Perkins.

Perkins said that she sees the move as a way to get commission members their checks without having to get her
signature.  “If I say ‘no,’ there is a fourth person,” Perkins said. “It is a way to go around me.”  Dorris made the proposal
for a fourth signer at the Legal, License and Ordinance Committee. She said she does not want to see what happened to
commission members in November occur again.

“There is no reason to be sitting on money, searching for someone to sign a check,” Dorris said.  

Brandon said making Satchell an authorized check signer was a pointless move.  “There is no need for a fourth person …
I don’t see where this has been an issue,” Brandon said. “We have been operating fine. It doesn’t make the organization
keep ticking.”

Perkins asked for the resignation of commission members when she took office, saying she would consider them for
reappointment to the positions. Commissioners, some of whom have been on the panel for 10 years despite prior village
regulations calling for it to be a one-year appointment, stayed in place, citing too many pending issues with the testing of
potential recruits to resign at that time.

The village, in October, changed the regulations extending the tenure of commissioners from one year to three years.  
Clay has said commissioners are willing to abide by whatever check issuance policy the Village Board wants to set.  “It’s
not a big deal,” Clay said. “… Whatever the governing body wants to do, we are willing to adhere to.”

The Police and Fire Commission is the only one of the 14 appointed boards, commissions and committees in the village
for which members are paid.  When the issue was discussed in August, Emanuel Wilder, chairman of the commission, said
the pay increase was justified for all the work commission members do. In fact, he said, commission members deserve
more compensation.

“I think any time we attend a hearing or tests need to be administered we should get paid for that,” Wilder said, “but that is
not included in the (proposed) compensation.”  He said there are times that commission members need to be up at 5 a.m.
and stay a good portion of the day to administer tests. The commission members are not compensated for those testing
days, he noted.

Officials approved increasing the pay for commission members in a 5-2 vote. Brandon and Perkins voted against the pay
increase.

Perkins said, at that point, her vote was based on some of the commissioners having retained their post for a decade
when it was supposed to be a one-year job.

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